Charlie Terry had a tough decision to make. He really couldn’t go wrong with either choice. Both Hendrix College in Conway and Rhodes College in Memphis wanted to award him academic and leadership scholarships to come to their school and run cross country and track, as he has so well at Bryant High School.
“I got my first letter the end of my sophomore year,” he recalled Monday. “I had really focused on Division I, Division I, Division I. Then I kept getting letters from Hendrix. They just kept popping up. Coach (Patrick) McDonald there, he was really persistent about getting me there at the school. Seeing his drive and how much he wanted me there had an impact. The other coaches were great.
“My main choice going into this was Rhodes,” he continued. “It’s in the same conference as Hendrix, ironically. So both coaches talk to each other so they figured that out really fast.
“Rhodes is a beautiful college,” Terry noted. “It’s a great campus and extremely prestigious academically. I’ve got a great GPA and I’m involved in everything but, man, the ACT hates me. Rhodes is amping up their ACT scores and making them higher and higher to get in. By the time Rhodes really got the ball rolling, Hendrix said we can give you all this right here, right now.
“I talked to my dad, who’s been really helpful and he said, ‘They’ve been here for you the whole time. If they wanted you before and they want you now . . . I mean, they did what they said they were going to do.’ Hendrix just pulled through. They were gung-ho about having me the whole time. I was appreciative of that.”
So the tenacity of the coaches at Hendrix made the difference as Terry, the son of Kent and Shannon Terry, signed a letter of intent to continue his education and his running career at the Conway school. And it was completely appropriate that tenacity made the difference for Terry, who has embodied that while at Bryant.
Hornets head coach Steve Oury had a couple of examples he talked about at the signing ceremony including this recollection about the Class 7A State championship meet last spring.
“I figured out as they were about to start the 3200-meter run that we could have a chance to win the State championship,” he recounted. “We were sitting in really good shape. I thought if Charlie can somehow finish ahead of the Bentonville runners — who actually had faster times than him coming in — that would probably clinch it.
“Then I thought, ‘I wonder if I should tell him that,’” the coach continued. “Sometimes, if you tell a kid something like that, they might freeze up but I thought, ‘No. He’d be mad if I didn’t tell him.’ So I went out there and grabbed him right before the race. I said, ‘Look, man, whatever you do — I don’t care if you come in third from last and those two guys are behind you — you’ve got to beat those guys from Bentonville.’
“His eyes got really big,” Oury related. “For a second, he had some doubt but then he went out there and executed the race to perfection. When the race was over, you had Charlie and then you had the Bentonville runners right behind him. So it was mission accomplished. He wasn’t first but he did what he had to do. That was the most important thing for the team that day. So, at the completion of the 3200-meter run we had an 11-point lead. We had it clinched.
“That’s a moment I’ll never forget because it was not only our first State championship but it was the first State championship for boys track in Bryant history,” he concluded. “So he had a big part in that.”
Terry said, “I’ve been running cross country and track for six years, since seventh grade.”
And he’d never been injured that much along the way.
“Of course, it hits my senior year, my first serious injury,” he said. “I mean shin splints, muscle soreness, lactic acid — it’s just another day at work. But I actually fell into a hole my first (cross country) race in Little Rock, a rabbit hole, a rut, a root, I don’t know what and, being a runner, I was just like, ‘I’ll walk it off, run it off, no big deal,’ because I roll my ankles all the time. I just thought it was a bad shin splint or a deep bone bruise or something.
“It turns out, I had a hairline fracture. I ran on that,” he continued. “We didn’t know it was a hairline fracture until we got to State. I just said, it’s my last State race. I’m going to run it. I ran my slowest time I’ve ever had for 5K including my seventh grade 5K’s. It was a painful race, blood, sweat and tears pulling through. Coach Oury, if he wouldn’t have gotten the team DQ’d, he was going to pull me off the course. My mother was a mess. It was more of a heart race, just telling myself, ‘Last time, one last shot.’”
“Charlie has had a really outstanding career at Bryant and it’s not over,” Oury stated, referring to the upcoming conference and State track meets. “In ninth grade, he was one of our top five runners in cross country. In 10th grade, he was all conference and all state in cross country. He made it to the Arkansas vs. Oklahoma All-Star meet then he repeated all those things in 11th grade as well.
“This year, I thought, gave him an opportunity to show his character as much as anything because it’s been a bumpy road,” he continued. “Sometimes your character gets revealed the most when you go through adverse situations. He certainly had his share of those this year. He’s never complained and he’s, basically, done everything he could possibly do to give himself a chance to step on the starting line. We have our conference meet coming up on the 28th and he’s doing his part to make sure he’s going to have a chance to run.
“He’s a fierce competitor,” the coach asserted. “He’s a natural leader. There’s been several times I’ve seen that competitive streak this year. At Cabot, after being out for several months, he comes out there and runs the 800-meter run and, honestly, my expectations were that he’d finish in one piece. I really did not expect a whole lot as far as his performance because I didn’t think he was physically fit enough at that time. Well, that never entered his mind. He won the race, just off of guts. I thought that really showed his competitive instinct, that when he had an opportunity to win, he made sure it happened.
“With about 300 (meters) to go, I don’t know what it was but I just kicked,” Terry remembered. “I was in fourth place and I shot it to first. A guy went head-to-head with me. I wasn’t going to let him win so I supinated a little bit and hurt the outer layer of my calf. It’s been iffy since then. With a college career to come, I just wanted to be safe making sure I can come into that full heat. Hopefully, I’ll be able to run by conference and at State.”
“To go to an institution like Hendrix, an outstanding college, and have an opportunity to compete for them is quite an accomplishment,” Oury concluded. “I know his family is extremely proud of him. His team’s proud of him.”
“I owe so many people thanks,” Terry said. “My family, I owe the biggest thanks. My parents raised me right and I know not everybody has the opportunity to have that kind of family. I wouldn’t be in this spot if I didn’t have my parents behind me.”